The New York Jets may end up having to resort to quarterback Geno Smith to be their starter in 2016. Can offensive coordinator Chan Gailey be exactly what Smith needs to thrive?
Quarterback Geno Smith needs to improve on the field for the New York Jets to succeed in 2016. With that said, Gailey not only has shown he can get the best out of less talented quarterbacks than Smith, but he also has an ability to help struggling quarterbacks improve.
Smith showed, even before Gailey got to the Jets, he can improve. In 2014, he had a higher completion percentage, more touchdowns and he had fewer interceptions than in 2013. Last season, the Jets had their best statistical season, and undoubtedly, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had his best season.
It wasn’t the first time Fitzpatrick had his best season working with Gailey. Even though he was the head coach and not the offensive coordinator, working together in Buffalo in 2011, Fitzpatrick completed 62% of his passes, passed for 3,832 yards and 24 touchdowns, but the Bills finished 6-10.
In 2015, Fitzpatrick set the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season, becoming the first quarterback to pass for 31 touchdowns in a year. With that being said, it’s not the first time that Gailey has had the quarterback of the team for which he’s the offensive coordinator had his best season. It’s happened twice before.
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The first time it happened was in 1997, because that team went to the Super Bowl.
That year there was a transition, because the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers that year was a wide receiver the season before.
Kordell Stewart‘s first season as a quarterback was a successful one.
In 2001, he had his best statistical season, but Stewart completed 53.6% of his passes had 3,496 total (3,020 passing and 476 rushing) yards and 32 total touchdowns (21 passing and 11 rushing) in 1997.
It was his most successful, because football is the ultimate team game, and his team won the AFC title and were runners up in the Super Bowl. After the 1997 season, Gailey left to become the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
After two unsuccessful seasons in Dallas, Dave Wannstedt hired him to be the offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. That season, quarterback Jay Fiedler became the team’s starting quarterback.
In 2000, the Dolphins finished 11-5 and won the AFC East. Fiedler performed well as he completed 57.1% of his passes for 2,402 yards and 14 touchdowns. He followed that up with the team by completing a second consecutive 11-5 season and he was statistically better.
Fieldler completed 60.7% of his passes for 3,290 yards and 20 touchdowns. Gailey left the Dolphins after the 2001 season and Fiedler never threw for as many yards or touchdowns after that.
Based on what wide receiver Brandon Marshall said in an article written by Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday, Smith is “more than ready” to take over the helm if the Jets don’t re-sign Fitzpatrick. According to Marshall, he’s also more mature: “In the past, I noticed there were some things he may not have channeled the right way, but now he’s really using it as fuel to push him to be better in areas that he’s already good at.”
Based on his history, Gailey seems to be a quarterback whisperer of sorts. Knowing this, Smith should be just fine in 2016 and possibly beyond.